If you've been following the technology news, then you know that Microsoft has lately been hyping something called "Origami", which, as was widely believed, is an "ultra-mobile PC" — basically, a laptop-handheld hybrid. The only big question about Origami before today's official announcement from Microsoft was whether it would be Microsoft-branded hardware running a Microsoft OS or third-party-branded hardware running a Microsoft OS. Turns out it's the latter. I honestly don't know why there was ever a question, though, because that's the way Microsoft does things — desktops, laptops, tablets, handhelds, and now ultra-mobile PCs.
Anyway, so that's Origami. What you should be thinking now is, what about Apple? Apple usually likes to be one step ahead of the competition, and this Origami business certainly gives the impression of poor Steve Jobs eating Bill Gates' dust — especially after Apple's underwhelming February 28 media event.
Well, let me tell you — Steve Jobs does not eat Bill Gates' dust. Ever. The reason Apple might look like it's behind Microsoft right now is that Apple is in the process of running circles around Microsoft.
DISCLAIMER: I like Apple. I think their design-style is sleek, minimalist, functional, and, in general, exceptionally well-thought-out. Label me a "Mac Cultist" if you will, but that's my story. What follows is the part that we Apple groupies live for — wild predictions about Apple's Secret Plans.
Apple is up to something. First, the facts:
- Exhibit A
- Steve Jobs' Keynote presentation at January's Macworld 2006 was 'a bit off'. It is widely believed by, um, Leander Kahney and me, anyway, that something exciting got pulled from the Keynote at the last minute. An 'inside source' apparently spilled some beans to Leander afterwards, advising him not to buy a MacBook Pro just yet because Apple has something "much cooler" in the works.
- Exhibit B
- Apple recently dropped big bucks on flash memory. A lot of flash memory. Said Steve Jobs, "we want to be able to produce as many of our wildly popular iPods as the market demands." Right.
- Exhibit C
- Apple has recently filed for a patent relating to a touch-screen interface.
- Exhibit D
- A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Apple had a product called the Newton, a precursor to the Palm Pilot, the first big PDA. The Newton was much loved by many, and, despite having been discontinued in 1998, still has a loyal fan base.
- Exhibit E
- In a nice bit of circularity, back to Steve's Macworld 2006 Keynote. Upon wrapping up his talk, Steve made a point of mentioning that April 1, 2006 will be Apple's 30-year anniversary. I don't recall his exact words, but, translated from plain English into Mac-fan-speak, it went something like, "it may be three months away, but you'd best start getting excited now."
So. All of that was relatively factual, but now I will transition to castles in the sky. Based on the above facts, I conjecture:
Apple is going to announce an exciting new product, and it will be targeted at the same audience as the MacBook Pro. The new product will be flash-memory based. Dreaming aside, flash is still too expensive for laptops; the new product will thus be sub-laptop-sized. The new product will have a touch screen, implying that it will be tablet- or handheld-esque.
Exiting. Small. Flash-based. Touch-screen. "Professional" audience. Put it all together, and what have you got? On April 1, Apple's 30th Anniversary, Apple will reincarnate the Newton as a flash-based, ultra-mobile PC with a touch-screen (multi-point? that'd be fun).
Well, it made sense to me, anyway. Whatever happens, just remember: you read it here first.